Simply Good Kitchen’s chefs Shanny and Bill share three loves – cooking, teaching and each other. Bill was born in California and raised in Oregon. Shanny is from Royal Oak, Michigan.
They met in 1994 at the Culinary Institute of America (the other CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, and their relationship bloomed while they served together on the board of a campus club called The Gourmet Society. During their vigorous two-year CIA program, they managed time apart to fulfill a required externship – Bill went to Aqua in San Francisco and Shanny to Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort in Utah.
After graduation, Shanny and Bill enjoyed a year at Mark Miller’s Coyote Café in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Shanny worked pastry and Bill worked grill. But the most fun they had was outside of work. They enjoyed mountain biking, camping, snowboarding and hiking. It was on one of their bike rides they decided to start Simply Good in Royal Oak, Michigan, where Shanny owned a home.
Bill and Shanny worked hard to grow SGK — they catered, cooked for families, and baked cookies. After a year and a half without a vacation, they both decided to try the corporate life — Bill as Executive Chef and Shanny as Special Events Coordinator at the Tournament Players Club (TPC) in Dearborn, Michigan. They enjoyed working together at TPC for three years. But, as Shanny says, “We finally figured out it was more fun to belong to a country club than to work at one.”
Shanny left TPC to grow SGK as a hand-made hand-dipped cookie business. Bill took a position as sous chef at Tribute in Farmington Hills, Michigan, where he worked closely with Takashi Yagihashi (winner of the James Beard Foundation “Best Chef: Midwest” award) for three years. During his time at Tribute, Bill enjoyed preparing the contemporary French/Asian-influenced menus, which inspired the New York Times to refer to Tribute as “the finest restaurant between New York and Chicago.”
Meanwhile, after losing her commercial kitchen space, Shanny went to work for a wine distributor. There Shanny discovered, “it’s much more fun to drink wine than to sell wine.” In October of 2002, Bill gave her some sound advice. “Shanny,” he said, “you’ve always said you wanted to teach cooking classes. Why don’t you give it a try?” Bill created a list of classes he thought she would like to teach and Shanny put together her first mailing. SKG was reborn as a cooking school.
Shanny taught out of their home in Royal Oak. She started with 1 student in the first class and taught 3 times a week. From there, that small mailing list exploded. Shanny had found her niche. Classes grew to 16 students per class, 7 times per week. SGK was so successful that Bill left Tribute to join her full time. They were incredibly glad to be working together again.
As business grew, they published their first cookbook — “Simply Good Kitchen” — and their house changed too. The living room became a prep-kitchen and the dining room transitioned into a retail store. As the business continued to grow, they moved their cars out of the garage and brought in commercial refrigerator and freezer.
After 5 years of teaching out of their home (and an inability to break down a barring wall to enlarge the space), they rented a retail storefront in Birmingham. There are there now, still enjoying the art of simple, good food. Their in-house store offers a vast selection of bistro style food. They published their second cookbook, “More Recipes and Tips from Simply Good Kitchen” in July 2014. They have retired from teaching cooking classes, and now enjoy their evenings bike riding, sewing and calligraphy.